Mt. Fairweather, Alaska
Many homeowners still trapped in Ameriquest loans
Foreclosure possible even for those with fraudulent mortgage terms
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/09/08
In 2004 David and Kelly Andronica were already looking into refinancing the mortgage on their four-bedroom house in Cumming when they got a call "out of the blue" from a salesman for Ameriquest.
"He was just speaking real clear and I felt like he was being real nice to me and Kelly," David Andronica recalled. "He acted like your best friend."
The Andronicas went through with a refinance with Ameriquest. They thought everything was fine until Kelly put in a call to the company to find out why their property taxes had not been paid.
Kelly said the customer service agent asked her to verify some figures from her loan application, including an annual income for Kelly in excess of $60,000.
"I haven't made that much money in my entire life," said Kelly, a 31-year-old mother of three.
Her W-2 statement, which she had supplied to the mortgage company, shows the housewife earned $1,408 working part time at a day care center.
But the Andronicas were to find worse news. They discovered they had signed for an adjustable-rate mortgage instead of the 30-year fixed rate they say they wanted. And, the appraisal Ameriquest ordered significantly overstated the home's value.
An appraiser hired by Ameriquest said the family's house was worth $283,000, much higher than the $209,000 value an appraiser hired by the Andronicas had set just two months before. David said that when he told his contact at Ameriquest that the value sounded high. "He was like 'No, everything's fine'."
Jason Farmer, who supervised the higher appraisal, said in an interview that he stood by all the home values determined by his Blue Ridge-based company. However, he said that his company stopped doing business with Ameriquest because the lender tried to inappropriately influence appraisals.
"Ameriquest was particularly bad about pressure for values," Farmer said. "A lot of times they would stipulate, 'Well, we are looking at at least this value'."
The more the Andronicas learned about Ameriquest, the worse things got. They started looking for a lawyer.
The central problem here is lack of education by the buyer and an need to deceive by the lender.
Like an athlete doing steroids, the money shufflers need that extra advantage to make a bigger buck. Sometimes it works for a while but most times the errors compound over time and you have what we have here, a shining example of American Capitalism gone bad, real bad.
Many people will suffer so a few can bake in the Caymans.